Saturday, 21 March 2009

Magazines in the spotlight: Monocle

Are you being served? The latest briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design.

Since it was launched two years ago Monocle has celebrated everything which makes print publications so special and in the process has become a constant fixture in my every day bag in the process. This is a magazine which requires more than a causal flick through because there is a depth of information and content which is incomparable to anything else that I read.

The latest issue is a delight for a budding menswear store owner like myself but as the issue analyses the state of retail it is an interesting and inspiring read for anyone. Within the survey on the state of retail we are introduced to the smartest shopkeepers, best buyers, happiest customers and sharpest ideas on the street, in the aisles and online which makes me long for payday! Long before the current economic slump the decline of many of our high streets has been noted and for me (a point agreed by Mr Brule) this climate is perfect for dynamic entrepreneurs to step forward to help turn things around and the issue looks at some of the example working today across the globe. We used to be called a nation of shopkeepers here in the UK but in recent years the consumer landscape has changed from busy, bustling stores to empty and even boarded up stores fifty four retail chains went in to administration last year. It is not all doom and gloom though, the issue highlights the companies, both large and small, who are making a success of it all whilst offering clever lessons in how to maintain traffic, margins and customer loyalty. Japan of course has many a highlight because it seems Japanese retailers actually try to understand what the customer actually wants and delivers great quality products and extremely good service.

Much of the issue is inspiring but the interview with Tadashi Yanai, President of Japanese company Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, is surely the highlight. After record sales in 2008, Yanai is taking Unqilo to Paris and Singapore and hunting for big game in the US (plus The Sunday Best will tempt him to Canada I'm sure), Yanai opened the first Uniqlo store in Hiroshima in 1984 (I was surprised to hear that I'm as old as Uniqlo) and now has 765 stores worldwide. The chains emphasis on high quality, low cost basics combined with strong advertising has certainly struck a chord with consumers and will continue to do so. Below are two of my favourite quotes from Yanai:

"We're just going about our normal business, doing what we have to do as a company, whether it's in Japan or London. We follow this principle all over the world."

"I might look successful but I've had many failures. People take failure too seriously. You have to be positive and believe you will find success next time."

The quality of writing content is what really gets me excited about this magazine but each months fashion shoot is a joy. This Shower Dressing editorial within this issue is the strongest yet. Brands featured in the shoot are Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers, Tomorrowland, Visvim, Hollywood Range Market, Traditional Weather Wear, Woolrich Woolen Mills, Sacai, Tod’s, Gucci, John Smedley and more. The spring looks make the best of light rains and cool breezes by using my my trusty and preferred colour palette with tones of blue.

I will spend the rest of my Saturday poring over the pages whilst enjoying the sunshine... a small part of me wants it to rain though so I can explore the streets in the fashion of the gentlemen pictured...

5 comments:

Daniel Jenkins said...

Good review. You are totally right about retail in this country @ the min....

Style Salvage Steve said...

It really is a good read this month so much so I keep picking it up again! You my friend are one of the few shining examples, I just wish there were more.

Daniel Jenkins said...

Thank you! Yes I think this is my fave issue so far. Great cover too.

You know my views on mens retailing in the UK (best keep them to myself!)

There is some amazing work being done in this country and the cream rises to the top eventually.

Cillian said...

Sounds like a great issue. All this talk of retail reminds of a book I read recently "Deluxe" by Dana Thomas - definitely worth checking out if you haven't already.

PS. Love rain unlike the majority of the Irish population!

/Male Mode.

-h said...

"I might look successful but I've had many failures. People take failure too seriously. You have to be positive and believe you will find success next time." This reminds me to stay hopeful.

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